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Monday, August 19, 2019

Your Guide To Donating Everything

Charity Navigator has guides on everything surrounding in-kind donations, whether it be what to donate to your local animal shelter, food bank, or homeless shelter. Yet, tracking down each of these articles in the moment can feel like going through a virtual junk drawer.

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So, to help with all that clutter, here is a one stop shop for all your donating needs:

Clothing Donations - Practice quality control. When it comes to clothing, there should be an emphasis on “gently” used. If it’s new, even better. However, in the case that it isn’t, make sure the state of each article of clothing is comparable to what you yourself would be comfortable wearing. Especially during the winter months, local organizations, thrift stores, and houses of worship are great places to start donating coats, sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves that you’ve kept but don’t wear anymore. If you’re having a difficult time parting with certain items, practices like “The Hanger Technique,” and thinking about how it will be more useful to someone else can make them easier to part with it.

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Supporting Homeless Shelters - Often, these shelters get a large influx of people during the winter, and that’s when they are the most in need of volunteers and support. Purchasing some groceries for the organization, offering to serve a hot meal, or a simple monetary donation will go a long way. Personal care items, toiletries, clothing, and blankets are all inexpensive purchases that can make one’s quality of life significantly better. Use our Advanced Search Tool to find and contact your local homeless shelter.

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Donating Books, School Supplies, and Toys - If you were to go through your house right now, you may find at least half a dozen old toys or school supplies that were bought and then never used. Even though it may not seem urgent, these items can have a second life and create a sense of normalcy for children and their families who truly need them. Some organizations that accept these types of donations include Make Way for Books and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.  

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Assisting Animal Shelters - Some of the most important members of our families are our pets. While you may want to adopt an army of cute fluffy dogs, it’s not exactly realistic. But, there are practical ways you can help animals in need. Did you know that you can donate pet supplies to your local shelter? Shelters can always use items like pet food, litter, leashes, and collars, as well as newspapers or fabric scraps for bedding and toys! Check with your local shelter to see what they will or will not accept. If these products are not at your disposal, you can volunteer or, at your next birthday party, ask for donations to support your local shelter instead of gifts.

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Car Donations - About to trade in your old car for a new one? Consider donating it to charity. However, before doing so, keep in mind that the best way to ensure that all the money goes to an organization is to confirm that the charity has a program that handles the donations directly. It’s important to check that the organization is a 501(c)(3) public charity to ensure you’ll receive a tax deduction,  and that the transfer of your car is done correctly (including all the paperwork). You should formally sign over the car to the organization so that you are not charged or responsible for the vehicle in the future. Nonprofits like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have a specific Vehicle Donation Program where a car, boat, RV, etc. can be donated at any time, picked up at any location directly by the organization for free.

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Fueling Food Banks - Just like homeless shelters, food banks are open all year, which means that they must restock their shelves often. This need is especially heightened during the holiday season. Donations are always welcomed, but before going out and buying cans and cans of soup, call your local organization and ask what they need. It goes without saying that, when making a food donation, you should ask yourself if you would want you or your family eating that particular product. If not, you probably shouldn’t donate it. If you’re unable to call your local pantry ahead of time, some items to consider buying are individually wrapped granola bars, oatmeal, spices, and coffee. And, in the case that you want to get even more involved find out how to volunteer! They may want you to clean and organize their space or give their community garden a little bit of love.

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With any in-kind donation, giving locally should be your first choice. Not only do you save on shipping costs, you are investing right back into your community. Just remember, before making that donation, ask yourself if it’s useful and valuable. It may be painful to give away certain items, but understanding that it will serve a bigger purpose makes it so much easier.

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Is this guide a useful tool in your donating endeavors? What are some items you currently have that can be donated? Let us know!

This post was contributed by Jessica Cunha, a Digital Marketing and Fundraising Intern at Charity Navigator. Jessica is currently studying at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts as a Political Communication Major with minors in Nonprofit Communication Management and Public Diplomacy. She believes that nonprofits play a vital role in the world and is passionate about Charity Navigator’s mission to identify charities the public can trust and support.

As a 501 (c) (3) organization itself, Charity Navigator depends on public support to help donors make informed choices. Please consider investing in the future of Charity Navigator by making a donation today.  Donate now >> 


Pazzy Winter said...

I am interested in donating healthcare supplies, especially wheelchairs and wheelchair parts. Ideas?

Midge said...

Contact the Red Cross. They run lending services for such items and can always use more stock.